Thursday, December 15, 2011


   This comes form www.themotherhuddle.com .  I hope these help you get all of those gifts wrapped just the way you want them without a lot of hassle.

How To Wrap Gifts Like A Pro

Or at least like they do at Dillard’s. When I lived in Denver I picked up a side job as a gift wrapper during the holidays at Dillard’s. I wrapped more gifts then I care to remember that year. But, it did give me a skill, if you count gaining an OCD for wrapping presents a skill that is! Seriously, I have to do it this way now, or it just doesn’t seem right. The secret is double sided tape. It gives the gift clean lines and almost invisible seams, making for a pretty presentation. So if you’re looking to pick up a new OCD, here you go!

How To Wrap Gifts Like A Pro:

We will be using a gift, double sided tape, and good sturdy wrapping paper. It’s worth every penny.

Start by cutting off any tags, removing price or mark over it.

Cut the paper to be 1½ times larger than the gift for both sides.

Without folding, pull one end to the center of the gift with and secure with the tape on the underside. If you fold over the end, it will leave a bulky line…heaven forbid.

Now pull over the other end and make a crease at the top of the box like shown.

Now fold the end under at the crease like shown.

Place your double sided tape right at the edge of the box where the creased end will go.

Now pull over the creased end and press onto the tape.

Moving onto the sides, you will fold in the ends like shown. Crease the corners with your fingers.

Now fold the top side down and crease.

Fold under at the crease and add tape to the underside along the edge, then fold down. Flip the present over and repeat on the other side.

Repeat on the other side and you have two ends that look like this.

Now pinch the edges between to fingers like shown and run along all sides to create a crisp look.

All done! See, pretty easy. It’s all about the tape.

Slap a bow on top and you’re good to go!
Also, if you are shipping your gifts, use fabric ribbon and form a simple bow like shown. The fabric will hold up better with shipping!
So how about you? Do you have a wrapping OCD?


   This comes from www.bakerella.com.  These are very cute and would look great on your holiday buffet table.

Gingerbread Heads

The season of giving will be upon us in just a few short days. I love December. People start baking and sharing sweets with friends and family … even people that might not normally bake any other time of the year. There is just something about the holidays and baking for others that makes people feel good to give.
I like to give fudge, pies, cake balls, cookies… cookies … and more cookies. I don’t really have a favorite kind though. But, one thing I like to do is make people smile, so I thought I would make some sweet little gingerbread cookies to share and get the season started off right.


I like my sweets on the smaller side, so I end up with larger numbers. That way I have enough goodies to give away and enough to keep for me. I wanted to make gingerbread men, but I decided to just make the heads for two reasons:
One … more cookies.
Two … I could have fun and focus on their faces …
oh and three…… less piping and less chances for my icing to look crooked. : )


Ooooh, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Can you smell it?


Add the spices to your flour … it will make your dough delicious.
I don’t have pics of the rest of the ingredients, but we don’t want to look at those anyway.
We want cookies. Cute cookies.


I used a small cookie cutter to make the base for the faces.


Little bitty blank canvases.


Where to start?


Well, I have to start by drawing ideas out first. Otherwise my faces would look all mangled. I use the same cutter to make several circle shapes on paper and sketch away. Then I place sprinkles on top of the drawings to see what works. It helps for me to have a point of reference when I start piping.


Ugh. I’m all excited about the possibilities up until right before I actually start. I always envision the cookies perfect in my head, but my hands just don’t like to play ball. They get shaky and then I get nervous and then my lines get more wobbly than they would if I just wouldn’t think about it.


This is pretty good though and probably as good as it’s gonna get.
Can someone please tell me how to make the lines meet without overlapping. My release needs work.


Since the edges of the cookies weren’t completely flat, I tried using the cutter dipped in flour to make a guide on the cookie. You can see a hint of the outline above.


It helped some… or not.


Once you pipe on all the details, you can start adding sprinkles for accents.


Or you could pipe them on in different icing colors. I chose sprinkles so I could control the shapes and so I didn’t have to mix a bunch of colors for tiny details.
Confetti sprinkles in different sizes, shapes and colors worked great for cheeks, eyes and bows.


Gingerheads. Look how cute. These are sure to make someone smile.


Big smiles. Big cheeks. And hopefully happy recipients.


See how versatile the jumbo flower sprinkle is.
When I finished playing with gingerbread heads, I powered up to pipe snowmen faces.


Looking good.
By the way, so glad I stocked up on black confetti sprinkles this Halloween. They do come in handy.


I’ve only really made decorated cookies a handful of times. And they’ve all been since I started blogging. Usually I will pipe the outline and let it dry before filling in the shape. But I wanted to be like my cookie decorating friends and make my edges look seamless and my tops puffy.
So I tried my icing consistency somewhere in between the outline and the flood consistency. I drew the outline and started filling in right away.


Crossing fingers it doesn’t flow over the sides.


Yay! Success.


I think I like doing cookies this way better.
These were easier than the gingerbread faces because you aren’t as focused on lines that could be wonky.


Again, I just used sprinkles to make most of the accents.
Confetti sprinkles, sugar crystals and coated sunflower seeds, too.
Just place them carefully in position while the icing is still wet.
Wait to draw on any details though, until completely dry.


I think this little guy might be my favorite snowman face. His hat is so sweet.
The earmuffs are tic tacs which don’t really go with gingerbread, but they were the right size and color.


Pipe the bottom half of the face first and let it dry. Then outline the shapes for the hat and fill it in with more icing. While it’s still wet, dip it in sugar crystals. If you lose any of the shapes, you can press in slightly with a toothpick.


I don’t know what she’s wearing. It’s not really a bow or a hat. Let’s say she’s British and call it a fascinator if anyone asks.

These were incredibly fun to make and so colorful for using only white icing. So even if you’re not a cookie decorating wizard, you can still make adorable treats with simple sprinkles. Which ones would you like to be given?
Gingerbread Cookies

5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter, slightly soft
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
  • Sift flour, soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and mix until combined.
  • Add molasses and mix until combined.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture and mix until combined and a dough forms.
  • Divide dough into four sections and shape each into a flattened disc.
  • Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Roll out each disc between two sheets of parchment paper using a rolling pin.
  • Flour the sides of the paper that will touch the dough to make it a little easier to release.
  • Cut out shapes and remove excess dough to reuse.
  • Leave cutouts on parchment paper and transfer to cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.
For the icing, mix together four cups confectioner’s sugar and four tablespoons meringue powder with about four tablespoons water. If it’s too thick, add more water a teaspoon at a time. Or if it’s too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. Decorate using a #2 to outline and #3 tip to fill in.

P.S. Thought you might like to see my mess. I usually place sprinkles I’m using in the caps of the containers they come in so I can sort through and find the color I need. But when I get excited and impatient, things start to look like this. I waste a lot of sprinkles this way


   If you still haven’t decided where to spend this year’s Christmas holidays, Greece will offer you amongst the most unforgettable holidays of your life! Even if Greece may not represent a classical destination for Christmas holidays, you will be surprised to experience its local traditions, religious customs and festive spirit.

   Indeed, as an Orthodox country, Christmas represents, after Easter, the second most important cultural and religious event in Greece. Greek Christmas is similar to the Western one, with a highly festive atmosphere, decorations with lights and Christmas trees, while it also includes some specific customs and traditions.
   Usually, the Nativity of Christ is celebrated after a 40 days lent. The beginning of Christmas in Greece starts on December 6th with the St Nicolas day feast, considered as the patron saint of Christmas but also the protector of sailors, and ends on January 6, a date when Greeks celebrate the Feast of Epiphany (Ta Fota).

Decorations & Traditions

   Except from the common to all western countries trees decorations, you will also witness one of the most beautiful and striking spectacle that represent the boats which are decorated with lights in order to honor St Nicolas.
   On Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Eve of Epiphany, children sing the Greek Carols called Kalanda from house to house in their neighborhood, using as instrument the traditional triangle, and are offered treats, presents or coins.
   Another difference is that traditionally in Greece, gifts are not offered on Christmas day but on St Basil Day (Agios Vassilis), on January the 1st, since in Greece, St Basil is the original father of Christmas who gave all he possessed to help those in need and gave presents to the children.
   Also, in many regions of Greece, people usually hang a pomegranate, symbol of prosperity, above their house’s front door until the New Year; then on New Year, they throw it on the ground to break it and enter back in their house on their right foot; according to tradition, that will bring them good luck for the year to come.

Christmas Celebrations

   But most importantly, Christmas in Greece is celebrated through innumerable gatherings of friends and family around the holy holiday table, wishing one another “Hronia Polla!” meaning “I wish you many happy years!” around a great and delicious variety of home cooked meals and sweet delicacies.
   Traditional food includes the Christmas bread called “Christopsomo”, sweets such as “Melomakarona”, “Kourabiedes” or “Diples”. The traditional Christmas day feast usually includes a stuffed turkey, lamb or roasted pork with cabbage and potatoes.
On New Year’s Day, the day of St Basil (Agios Vasilis) name feast, Greeks “cut” their Vasilopita, a cake where a coin covered in foil is placed before it is baked. Each person present, usually family and friends, receives a part of the cake and whoever gets the coin in his piece of cake, will have a new year full of luck!


   If you decide to spend this Year’s Christmas holidays in Greece, you will experience a great array of events and festivities in all major cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra or Heraklion where music concerts, artistic performances and a number of other cultural events are organized.
During Christmas season, the greatest hotels of major cities in Greece offer attractive Holidays packages and accommodation proposals for every need, to enjoy your winter holidays in Greece within exclusive accommodation.

   For nature’s lovers, do not miss to visit Greece’s traditional villages located on the mountainsides, especially in Mainland Greece; their picturesque character on wintertime will definitely welcome you in Greece’s most genuine Christmas spirit and traditions! Christmas in Greece is most of all about sharing its joy and love with your beloved ones, family and friends, in the most authentic and welcoming manner; make sure to experience it once in your lifetime and you will for sure discover the true meaning of Christmas Celebration!


  This comes from www.afieldjournal.blogspot.com .  Gool Luck.

O Christmas Tree

This year, Green Valley Christmas Trees kindly treated me to a mail-order tree to decorate and share with you here. I chose a 4 ft Fraser Fir and it's just stunning, even at this small size. I love the neat definition of the branches in this particular type of tree. I knew it deserved some first rate trims. I decorated it with some store-bought finds as well as 32 handmade ornaments (whew!), in five styles (one of each is pictured below). I know, Christmas day has come to a close, but I wanted to provide templates and brief/informal tutorials just in case you'd like to try these next year.
Click the photo above for a larger view.

The Felt Pinecones, were inspired by my mom's friend Denise who made little brown ones to top off a woodsy s'mores kit. I also used Suzonne Stirling's tutorial for Family Circle as guide (she has a much tidier method for transferring the pattern to the felt, and other great tips). Here's how I made mine: Gather the template, scissors, a pen, felt, fabric glue and a wooden skewer. Use the template to trace and cut 6 small, 8 medium and 12 large felt pinecone layers. Then stack them on the skewer in the following order 1 S, 3 M, 12 L, 5 M, 5 S. Stagger the points to make the pinecone look realistic and dab a little glue between some of the layers to help secure it - especially top and bottom layers. Trim away excess skewer. Form the point of the pinecone by pinching it at the bottom and securing with glue. Finish the top by cutting a felt circle about the size of a nickel. Poke a hole in the center and thread ribbon through for hanging. Attach to pinecone with glue.

For the Paper Cone, download the template and trace onto patterned card stock. Cut out, then score and fold along the dashed lines. Glue closed using the tab and let dry. Decorate with desired trims. For mine, I sewed a crepe ruffle from a party streamer (this makes a great garland as well; set your machine to the longest stitch and it should gather as you sew). I also added velvet ribbon, a wired pom pom handle and holly leaves made from cut paper, velvet flocking powder and a bead.

The little putz-style Church Ornaments are my absolute favorites! The template I used is from the Little Glitter Houses site (scroll to the bottom of the page for the church). I scaled the template down a bit in order to make it appropriately sized for an ornament, and used thin white cardboard and Tacky glue to construct them. Poke a hole in the roof of the steeple and thread with a loop of string for hanging before completely assembling. Also, cut an "X" with a craft knife in the back wall of the church, so you can poke a light through when you hang it. I free-handed the windows and cut them out with a craft knife, adding window frames cut from card stock as well as a door. The rest is just painting, glittering and decorating. For the pipe cleaner wreath, bend a pipe cleaner over on itself and twist it together, then wrap around a circular object to give it its shape, and glue to church. Cover the seam with a bow.

For the Glitter Ice Skates, I used watercolor paper because it's sturdier than card stock, and I happened to have a pad of it that was going unused. I find it works well though. Using the template, cut two skate shapes and one blade for each ornament. Glitter the skates with iridescent white glitter and the blade with silver glass glitter (I gave the blades a coat of silver paint and let it dry first). Once the glitter is dry poke holes through one side of the skate with a sturdy pin and sew on "laces" with silver embroidery floss and a needle. To complete the ornament glue together the two skate shapes with the blade and a loop for hanging sandwiched in between. Place under a heavy book or clamp together with clothespins as it dries. As a final touch, glue on a 1" pom pom as shown.

For the Glitter Leaf, use the same method as the ice skate. The leaf shape is provided on the template. Cut two and glitter the sides that will face out (leaves are not symmetrical). You can give them a base coat of paint the same color as the glitter if desired. String a loop of ribbon through a bead before gluing between two glittered leaf shapes. Clamp and let dry.